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Occupy Folk Music! (USA)

GUEST,Jeff Mitchell 16 Aug 12 - 11:48 PM
Amos 03 May 12 - 05:21 PM
Big Al Whittle 04 Dec 11 - 08:27 PM
Stringsinger 04 Dec 11 - 01:01 PM
Big Al Whittle 04 Dec 11 - 07:15 AM
Dave the Gnome 04 Dec 11 - 04:31 AM
John P 02 Dec 11 - 12:13 PM
Suffet 02 Dec 11 - 11:18 AM
John P 02 Dec 11 - 10:18 AM
Big Al Whittle 02 Dec 11 - 09:53 AM
Jeri 02 Dec 11 - 09:40 AM
dick greenhaus 02 Dec 11 - 09:34 AM
Big Al Whittle 01 Dec 11 - 03:56 PM
Suffet 01 Dec 11 - 02:15 PM
DebC 01 Dec 11 - 09:45 AM
Brian Peters 01 Dec 11 - 06:19 AM
Seamus Kennedy 01 Dec 11 - 01:42 AM
Suffet 01 Dec 11 - 12:23 AM
DebC 30 Nov 11 - 08:04 PM
Suffet 30 Nov 11 - 06:04 PM
Suffet 30 Nov 11 - 06:02 PM
Dave the Gnome 30 Nov 11 - 05:13 PM
GUEST,Ralphie 30 Nov 11 - 05:00 PM
Suffet 30 Nov 11 - 04:37 PM
Dave the Gnome 30 Nov 11 - 02:56 PM
GUEST,aging cynic 30 Nov 11 - 11:01 AM
Richard Bridge 30 Nov 11 - 10:37 AM
John P 30 Nov 11 - 10:30 AM
Big Al Whittle 29 Nov 11 - 07:25 PM
John P 29 Nov 11 - 04:31 PM
Dave the Gnome 29 Nov 11 - 03:29 PM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 29 Nov 11 - 03:23 PM
Dave the Gnome 29 Nov 11 - 02:56 PM
Dave the Gnome 29 Nov 11 - 02:51 PM
Richard Bridge 29 Nov 11 - 10:25 AM
YorkshireYankee 29 Nov 11 - 09:22 AM
Brian Peters 29 Nov 11 - 09:13 AM
Suffet 29 Nov 11 - 07:46 AM
Suffet 29 Nov 11 - 06:38 AM
Richard Bridge 29 Nov 11 - 04:45 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 29 Nov 11 - 04:30 AM
Richard Bridge 29 Nov 11 - 04:03 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 29 Nov 11 - 01:44 AM
dick greenhaus 28 Nov 11 - 10:59 PM
Jeri 28 Nov 11 - 10:38 PM
Big Al Whittle 28 Nov 11 - 09:14 PM
Suffet 28 Nov 11 - 08:57 PM
Big Al Whittle 28 Nov 11 - 08:57 PM
dick greenhaus 28 Nov 11 - 08:23 PM
GUEST,Jon 28 Nov 11 - 07:20 PM
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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: GUEST,Jeff Mitchell
Date: 16 Aug 12 - 11:48 PM

We wrote a song in honor of labor unions everywhere, and the Occupy movement. Hope you like it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZlFBn09Xjk


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: Amos
Date: 03 May 12 - 05:21 PM

Here comes the GUITARMY. Washington Square hasn't sounded this good since Woodstock! :D

A


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 04 Dec 11 - 08:27 PM

'Occupying folk music is unnecessary because it persists regardless of business interests.'

Not sure I'd agree with that. Supposing the Lilliputians had managed to snuff out the career of o Carolan, as effectively as they did Nick Drake and Roger Brooks.

Something persists, but not what should have been the crowning glories of our culture.


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: Stringsinger
Date: 04 Dec 11 - 01:01 PM

Folk music clubs are part of the music and show business. They may or may not have anything to do with folk music, not being created for business reasons.

Occupying folk music is unnecessary because it persists regardless of business interests.

As to the "process", new songs are being written everyday by songwriters who don't care about the songwriting business. Actually, that's the way Woody Guthrie started, his earlier quote inviting anyone who wants to take his songs and sing them anyway they want.
The quote was later modified and I suspect it was done by outside influences when Woody could no longer make rational decisions for himself.

One way to occupy folk music is to question the copyright laws that are in place now when in most cases songwriters are not paid as much in royalties as publishers and recording companies. The downloading issue is heavily weighted in favor of the 1% music business people who cash in on the creative process.


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 04 Dec 11 - 07:15 AM

Don't like naming names. I tend to think we're all part of the same movement -even if some people think they have folk music to themselves.

I would rather we arrived at some sort of re focussing.

the results are plain for everyone to see. Half the 'big' names on say the Cambridge style are people that when kids try to emulate and feel inspired by them - they would be dismissed as 'not really folk music'. Certainly they wouldn't get played by your local friendly folk programme. Whereas even the direst versions of he Dorset four hand reel, or the Masons Apron seem to get an airing.

'I am old, I old, I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled....'

I haven't a clue what to do about it. If some people think they can re-occupy folk music with the general population. Well its worth a try....but I wouldn't give tuppenece for your chances Steve, when as you can see.... the traddies are going Crisis, what crisis....? WE'RE happy - you should be!


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 04 Dec 11 - 04:31 AM

I just re-visited and spotted Al's comment

I can remember Martin Carthy telling me sometimes HE has to explain to people who he is. And of course these people - well how they end up on the production teams of Radio and TV folk programmes, and reviewing for for heavyweight magazines, and booking the acts for festivals - God alone knows - but it happens. And naturally they lack respect for something they know sod all about.

Now, that is something we could realy agree on - If I had an idea who 'these people' were. Now, I am pretty sure that no reviewer for radio or tv know's 'sod all' about folk music but I am pretty sure they will know what they like and dislike. Is this just an argument about tastes? Surely not. As to 'these people' booking acts for festivals. I don't know a single festival organiser who is not a volunteer. I am pretty sure they all know a lot about folk music, their audience and the acts - If they did not the festival may not survice.

I am sure Al has come across the opposite or he would not have said so. Seeing as these people know sod all about folk music, how about letting us know who they are so we can judge for ourselves the amount of damage they are doing? After all, they critise others, there is certainly no harm in criticising them!

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: John P
Date: 02 Dec 11 - 12:13 PM

Steve, I'm not on Facebook, so I can't see all your information, but wouldn't it be easier and more realistic to focus on the few individuals that you see as being elitist and boorish? Why not talk to them directly about your concerns? Or, if they are part of an organization, address your concerns to the specific organizations that you see being led astray? It feels a bit like you are hunting crickets with a shotgun.

Given my own experience and the reports of others on this thread, this is not a problem for the vast majority of people who are involved with putting on folk music events. Why try to make it about the whole folk scene instead of a few individuals? Unfortunately, unless you name the persons and organizations you see as a problem, no one really knows what or who you are talking about, and we are left to wonder if you are talking about us or our friends. Mind you, I don't blame you for not naming names -- I certainly wouldn't, but then I wouldn't do any of this. If I saw a problem that I thought needed addressing, I'd address it directly.


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: Suffet
Date: 02 Dec 11 - 11:18 AM

John,

The purpose of this thread is to point out and publicize a Facebook community page called Occupy Folk Music! (USA). That page is a forum, not an organization, so there is no specific program. There is, however, a goal, and that is to make the folk music community in the USA more open, welcoming, and diverse.

Perhaps having spent too much time at Occupy Wall Street in Zuccotti Park in New York, I started the community page with language which I now see as intemperate, needlessly provocative, and possibly unfair. In response to criticism both here on Mudcat and on the Facebook page itself, I have revised the language and made other changes. However, I stand by my basic assertion that a small minority of folkies in the USA (perhaps 1%, hopefully fewer, possibly more) act in a narrow minded, boorish, and/or elitist manner that drives others away.

A lot of people here on Mudcat disagree with me. Some of them do not see it as an issue at all, while others see it as only a minor problem at worst. From my own experience, which is long in terms of years but limited in terms of geography, I see it as a more serious problem. However, it is one that I believe can be successfully dealt with. In fact many folk music societies and clubs have already done so, and I applaud them. For other organizations, including many coffee houses and house concert series, it has never been a problem at all, and I applaud them as well.

So far 97 people have clicked that they LIKE the Facebook page. Of those 97 people, 65 are from the USA, which makes sense since it is a forum about the folk scene in the USA. Another 16 are from the UK, and the remaining 6 are scattered among four other countries.

Once again, I invite people to check out the OFM! (USA) Facebook page. Or should I say the kinder, gentler OFM! (USA) Facebook page?

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: John P
Date: 02 Dec 11 - 10:18 AM

I still don't understand the goals. What specific changes are being asked for? Who is being asked to make them?


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 02 Dec 11 - 09:53 AM

No alot of it is about being a human being, a folk...

Be a mensch! as the old jewish doctor says to Jack Lemmon in The Apartment.


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: Jeri
Date: 02 Dec 11 - 09:40 AM

About 99% isn't.
That's MY whole point.


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 02 Dec 11 - 09:34 AM

Folk music isn't all about performing.


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 01 Dec 11 - 03:56 PM

Hm... I take Brian's point too. I've seen terrible acts of discourtesy to great tradtional players. probably the worst was to the great Fred Jordan round about 1965, when he was on a 'folk' package tour, and a gang of bert Jansch's fans (who'd come to see the new Dylan) shouted 'get off' at Fred.

But in a way that's not really what we're talking about.

If you can't handle rejection - you can't handle the job of being a pro musician/entertainer.

About eight years ago Willie Jackson (ex Magna Carta) told me he was going back on the road - after a twenty odd year break as a very successful record producer (The Music, The Pigeon Detectives, The Kaiser Chiefs, Embrace). He lasted about two gigs. Willie said to me, I'd simply forgotten how musicians are routinely treated like shit. Talked to impolitely, ordered around, crap facilties, no hospitality after travelling hundreds of miles, no respect for the work and practice that you've had to do to put you where you are, ....

And to be honest, I tend to feel if you haven't taken out an act that you've lost confidence in and had to go on and give it your best, maybe get paid off in some low life club, and generally seen the other side of the business, and had crooks rip you off and steal your royalties, and tear up contracts.....well you in my book, you haven't really paid your dues. Cos that is the business we are involved in (as they say in The Godfather).

But that isn't really what we're talking about either.

What we're talking about is people in places of responsibility - often paid from public funds - who are opinionated or know next to nothing about folk music. In some ways, it amounts to the same thing. If your mind is closed to the diversity in folk music - it might as well be completely vacant.

I can remember Martin Carthy telling me sometimes HE has to explain to people who he is. And of course these people - well how they end up on the production teams of Radio and TV folk programmes, and reviewing for for heavyweight magazines, and booking the acts for festivals - God alone knows - but it happens. And naturally they lack respect for something they know sod all about.


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: Suffet
Date: 01 Dec 11 - 02:15 PM

Deb,

I guess we disagree about the extent of the problem.

Maybe a lot of our seeing things diffeeently has to do with the slices of the folk music scene we have witnessed. My experiences go back to around 1963, but admittedly they have all been in the Northeast. I have never traveled like you and Brian have, and at my age I never will. The incidents I cited all occurred in the Northeast, but unfortunately not within just one or two organizations. And yes, most of the names that would come to your mind are the people I am thinking about. But one or two would surely surprise you.

That having been said, I agree with most of what you write. For example, you say, "BTW-if you look at the many performers that work in schools here in the US, you will see an amazingly diverse population: young, old, and many who share their ethnic cultures with kids. That is where the IMPORTANT work is being done IMO." Here we are in total agreement. In fact, of the few gigs that I do in any one year, a good number of them are in schools. Others are for labor unions, where there is also quite a lot of diversity of age, ethnicity, musical style, etc.

We are also in total agreement when you say, "I have seen many venues in my travels that open their doors to genres other than folk and allow their patrons to experience different types of performances. These are venues that draw in new audience and create an environment where they can experience something different. Many of them are quite successful, I might add and contribute positively to their communities." These are venues that have made a conscious and successful effort to address the problems I cited. But that doesn't always just happen. It often takes prodding from both inside and outside.

Furthermore, we are in total agreement when you suggest, "Let's put this kind of energy into changing our political system ... of government where there are some real problems that affect the lives of our fellow citizens."

However, when you say, "Folk music is just fine," I have to respond that it can be even better.

Finally, I have taken seriously every criticism on this thread and on Facebook that I considered justified, and I have made appropriate adjustments. I now explicitly state on Facebook: Let us better focus on the positive mission of working to make the folk music community more open, diverse, and welcoming. I hope we can add that to the list of areas where we agree.

Meanwhile, as I wrote in the e-mail, have a good Christmas and a happy New Year.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: DebC
Date: 01 Dec 11 - 09:45 AM

I did read your email, Steve and I do see your point. I still disagree.

As to driving people away, again, I only see it in a very very small section of the US folk community. Yes, these folks are narrow-minded and their attitudes are irritating but IMO these are people whose filters are in the "off-position" permanently and aren't worth considering. In fact, I betcha the names that come to my mind are the very same people you are describing. If so, these people have no more power in the folk scene than I or anyone else does. I won't name names, but I dismissed many of these folks long ago as good-hearted but mis-guided. Their numbers are in the single digits and I really don't see it as an issue.

Again, Brian makes a great point above and I have had the same experience as well. I have seen many venues in my travels that open their doors to genres other than folk and allow their patrons to experience different types of performances. These are venues that draw in new audience and create an environment where they can experience something different. Many of them are quite successful, I might add and contribute positively to their communities.

BTW-if you look at the many performers that work in schools here in the US, you will see an amazingly diverse population: young, old, and many who share their ethnic cultures with kids. That is where the IMPORTANT work is being done IMO.

Let's put this kind of energy into changing our political system (which you do admirably, Steve) of government where there are some real problems that affect the lives of our fellow citizens.

Folk music is just fine.

Debra


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: Brian Peters
Date: 01 Dec 11 - 06:19 AM

"She did not like the color of my guitar....."

Was it one of those blue ones? Good decision.

Just to add to my previous post: I've spent twenty-odd years selling traditional music to people who weren't always receptive to it, and when I read about some conspiracy against contemporary folk by the intolerant old traddies, I think back to the rudeness with which I've sometimes been treated in the past by people who dismissed my music as "that finger-in-the-ear stuff". And of the venues I play (including many in the US) where the forthcoming guest list includes scarcely any performers working with traditional music, but where audience members will often say after the show, "It was great to hear some traditional folk, we get so little of it here".


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 01 Dec 11 - 01:42 AM

As a 40-year veteran of the Irish/Scottish/Celtic/Folk scene here in the U.S.A., I tend to agree with DebC.

I've performed (headlined) at legendary folk clubs such as Passim, Godfrey Daniels, Caffe Lena, as well as at festivals as diverse as Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Milwaukee Irish Fest, Longs Peak Highland Games, Celtic Classic in Bethlehem, PA.

If a club organizer doesn't want to hire me, I don't take it personally. If he thinks I won't suit his club, so be it.
But the strangest reason I ever got for not being booked was from a lady who ran a folk club in Connecticut.
She did not like the color of my guitar.....


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: Suffet
Date: 01 Dec 11 - 12:23 AM

Deb,

I believe you have misunderstood what I am trying to do, and I have sent you a private e-mail.

Meanwhile, let me say that this is not about me as a performer. As you know, I am a part-timer who is content to do about ten gigs a year. That's what I seek out and that's what I generally get. While I have fun performing, I have no career to advance. The little money I earn rarely covers my expenses, and even then I often donate it to various folk music organizations.

My major connection to the folk music scene is therefore from the organizational end. I currently do the booking (along with one other person) for a club in New York. I also currently serve on the board of directors of one folk music society, and my term on the board of another society expired earlier this year. Over the years I have helped to stack chairs and sweep floors, and I have also helped to produce major concerts. I believe I have seen a representative slice of the American folk scene from the inside, both the good and the bad. Fortunately the overwhelming majority is good, but there is still a small but important minority -- the rhetorical 1% -- whose behavior is just the opposite.

After you read my e-mail, I will be happy to continue the discussion if you wish, particularly the next time we get together in person. Until then, have a good Christmas and a happy New Year.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: DebC
Date: 30 Nov 11 - 08:04 PM

Sorry Steve. I don't agree with your premise, even revised. In my travels all over North America, I just don't see it. Yes there are rude and boorish people in every walk of life, even folk music. I think Brian Peters said it all quite well (as he usually does) and I agree with him completely.

I will say that a long time ago, I might have shared your opinions, but those have since changed. In my short time as a traveling, working musician (sure haven't been at it as long as many here) I have learned a lot and I respect those that in your words "hold positions of power within our folk music clubs and societies decisions" as to how they run their organisations. All I can do is make the case for me and the music I love and then move on. No hard feelings and I certainly won't take it personally if I am refused.

It's business, pure and simple.

I guess that I am not sure what this is really about, Steve. If I have mis-understood what you are trying to do, then please enlighten me.

Debra Cowan


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: Suffet
Date: 30 Nov 11 - 06:04 PM

Sorry, I meant to type DtG.

DtS is someone else entirely, not a Mudcatter.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: Suffet
Date: 30 Nov 11 - 06:02 PM

DtS,

Fair enough.

My wife and I are now about to take an hour long walk to a house where we will spend the next couple of hours pasting address labels, sealing circles, and postage stamps onto the monthly newsletters of our local folk music society. We promise to be gentle. Resolute, yes. But gentle. :-)

Then this coming May we will return to the UK for holiday, as we do every couple of years. We love America, but this place will drive you mad if you don't get out every once in a while. I hold myself up as Exhibit A. :-)

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 30 Nov 11 - 05:13 PM

Now, this is what civilised discussions should be like. Steve, you are a gentleman and a scholar :-) I cannot argue against what you state to be true in the USA - I still find it difficult to believe that there are enough people like this to create a problem but in these situations, as in many others, a compromise is neeeded and I am perfectly willing to accept your judgement of the situation over there. Just as you have been happy to moderate your own description based on the views of an 'outsider'.

Good luck with your campaign. Don't let the minority spoil it for the majority and always remember that they are people with feelings too. Maybe a gentle reminder that they were once young, naive performers would go a long way?

Cheers

Dave


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 30 Nov 11 - 05:00 PM

On reflection as a Brit, I'm with DtG.
Apart from Festival Organisers (most of whom are unpaid anyway!) we don't have commitees/club officers/leaders of the folk community!
Just a bunch of people in various parts of the country putting on events for little/no money.
I have never seen anyone tell a performer what they should/not sing/play...A gentle suggestion that it actually sounds "nicer in F rather than G...why not give it a try?" But, certainly no strong arm tactics.
I personally reserve my loudest applaud for the 10 year old scraping painfully away on a fiddle...
And it's well known that Martin Carthy sits patiently through every act doing a floor spot at one of his gigs.. No matter how painful.
There really is no 1% versus 99% in our country. If it really is like that in the US then I feel sorry for you.
But, if you can't get gigs, you must ask yourself why.
And no, This isn't me having a go. I just can't afford the petrol and the gigs just aren't there for people in their late 50s.
Mind you, I do have 30 years of memories.....which is nice.


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: Suffet
Date: 30 Nov 11 - 04:37 PM

DtG,

Thank you for responding to my examples in a thoughtful and civil manner. In some instance you might be onto something, while in other instances you have drawn incorrect conclusions. But in all instances you have offered some food for thought. Your £3.57 is certainly welcome.

Since you have backed off with the rhetoric, so shall I.

I still stand by my basic argument that at least in the USA a small minority of folkies behave in a narrow minded, boorish, and/or elitist manner that drives people away. Furthermore, too among this small minority are people in leadership positions with the organized folk music community, and they are often the people who make the programming decisions. Admittedly, they are dedicated and hard working, but that is hardly an excuse.

However, I will reword the description of my Occupy Folk Music! (USA) Facebook page to say the following:

A small minority of folkies, perhaps 1%, behave in a narrow minded, boorish, and/or elitist manner that drives people away from our organized folk music community. Unfortunately, too many among this small minority hold positions of power within our folk music clubs and societies, and they often use their power to determine what is and isn't heard. It is time to stand up and educate those who would impose their own narrow interpretation of what is and what isn't acceptable. Open the doors and the floors to those who bring new life to old songs, and to those who create new songs of their own. We are the 99%. Let's make folk music dangerous once again. Avenge Phil Ochs!

Meanwhile, you said, "I think what could easily clear up all these misunderstandings is not a campaign to get rid of these people but one to educate. Both parties." I can live with that.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 30 Nov 11 - 02:56 PM

Pass it on to whoever you like, Al. Glad I could be of service - But if I can be of similar service may I just say that kicking out at the wrong people does no good at all.

Lashing out at me because Tunesmith doesn't like people singing in phoney accents does no good. Only addressing the people who are making you angry does.

Calling everyone who likes the more traditional acts toadies and wankers does not help Sanjay bookings at his local folk club. Hard work, a modicum of talent and being himself will do that - eventualy!

OK. Enough off the thread stuff and back to Steves point. I have just re-read your list of 'sins'' and have revised my opinion of the perpetraors. Bit long here but I think I need to address each one -

• A young woman just out of college goes to a weekend retreat sponsored by an established folk club. When no one else is making any music, she takes out a penny whistle and starts to play Soldier's Joy. A long-time officer of the club immediately tells her to stop because she is playing the tune in thew wrong key, G instead of D. What a way to make a newcomer feel welcome!

Maybe he was helping to put her straight? Maybe Soldiers Joy was due to be played and he was helping to make sure she could join in? Maybe it was aginst retreat rukes to play between sets but he didn't want to put it that way?

• At a different weekend retreat, during an open jam, a singer-guitarist starts to play Hesitation Blues in a major key. One of the leaders with a bigger guitar and louder voice feels he is doing it wrong, and proceeds to drown him out by playing the same song in a minor key.

This was the session leaders song. Why should he put up wiuth someone 'stealinng' his stuff? I would not be happy if someone came to my club and sang my songs. (I only know 2 :-) )

• At yet a different weekend retreat, a banjo player starts to take a seat in the inner circle of an open jam. He is told he cannot sit there because "that seat is reserved for good musicians" and he is instructed to sit in the outer circle.

The seats could well have been reserved weeks or months in advance.

• At a club sponsored pub sing, a woman from the neighborhood who is not a club member comes with a double bowed psaltry and plays a couple of simple tunes the best she knows how. And what does the organizer say? "She should learn her tunes better." The woman got not even a thank you, let alone a comment on what an unusual and fascinating instrument she brought.

If one does not want to be criticised one should not play in public.

• At a folk society sponsored forum on folk music held in an urban high school with many students in attendance, a speaker talks about how much of the topical and protest music today comes out of the hip-hop genre. The next speaker, a well known folk musician, follows up by saying "You know what I call rap music? I call it crap music." That will surely win over the young ones, won't it?

He is entitled to his opinion.

• At another event held in a high school, in a workshop on using music for community outreach, a leader in the folk music community makes a joke about always pronouncing "New Age" so it rhymes with "sewage."

As above.

• After a mostly traditional folk club presents Joe Jencks, a very accomplished singer-songwriter, a long-time officer of the clubs says, "I would sooner shut the club down than have that kind of music." By the way, no one in the audience complains about Jencks or his music.

As above

• A person comes to a folk club for the first time, and mentions that she loves folk music. When asked what kind, she replies, "Oh, stuff like Nanci Griffith, Kate Wolf, and Lauro Nyro." A club officer then tells her, "That's not folk music." I guess the only thing worse would have been if she said she likes Peter, Paul, and Mary or the Kingston Trio.

Lots of people would agree that it is not folk music. The club officer could well have been trying to enlighten her.

• A woman who has never previously heard Jack Langstaff goes to a talk he is giving. Afterwards she approaches the moderator and asks a few very basic questions. Instead of answering her, the moderator brushes her off saying in a sarcastic tone, "You mean to tell me you don't know who Jack Langstaff is?" (Jack, by the way, is a perfect gentleman and he later answers the woman's questions.)

That is, as ever, the way of the world. People who know their subject will often deride those who do not. Get over it or learn more and get your own back :-)

What links all the perpetraors, in my mind, is a lack of peopekl skillls. There are lots of peopel who have difficulty with relationships. Should they be derided and denied opportunities in society because of it?

What links the 'victims', again only in my mind, is an ability to be easily offended.

I think what could easily clear up all these missunderstandings is not a campaign to get rid of these people but one to educate. Both parties.

Just my two-penn'urth

Well about Three pound 57 pence worth by the word...

:D


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: GUEST,aging cynic
Date: 30 Nov 11 - 11:01 AM

while i've never played in many usa folk venues there was a time i tried getting booked along the eastern seaboard. it did seem like trying to gain entrance to a closed shop. i don't see this as a conscious conspiracy of the 'one percent' but more the result of several factors, though a version of group-think among those responsible for booking acts is among them.

most of the time there was no response to booking queries, which is apparently fairly common. when there were responses, they were often along the lines of 'i really like your stuff but we can't book you because nobody in our area knows you.' when queried as to how to build a following in their area without getting bookings, the response was usually, 'when you get a following, please let us know. we simply can't afford to bring people in who can't fill seats.' an understandable concern, though also something of a catch-22.

it was also suggested that attending a regional meeting of the folk alliance might help. these weekend events, when room, board, and travel expsenses are added up, can cost upwards of $600. and, as was often pointed out, do not expect to get gigs at these meetings, only to create 'relationships' that might eventually lead to gigs, especially if you get a showcase. the chances of getting a showcase are slim so this doesn't seem a wise expenditure to musicians who are watching their nickels, though neither is it exactly a pay-to-play situation, as some critics might suggest.

attending other people's gigs, and lurking on folk websites, did offer some insights into this world. there are many good players but plenty of ordinary and mediocre ones as well. this would indicate that, as in all other areas of life, contacts and perseverance can pay off even if you're not very talented. there's also the question of personal taste. there truly is no telling what a venue booker might like. many people have no doubt had the experience of hearing raves about a performer, going to hear for yourself, and being mystified as to what the excitement is about.

as for group-think, a visitor to a folk venue may sense a prevailing political and cultural orthodoxy shared by performers, the audience, and likely the person who booked the show as well. in a line, the attitude seems to be 'aren't we the clever ones!' i'm reminded of contemporary christian music: so long as you invoke the Lord enough, your music can be utter drek. to an outsider, especially one with dissenting views, the atmosphere may seem deeply smug and unwelcoming.

so, plenty of reason for seeking opportunities elsewhere -- house concerts, bars, or starting your own scene. and there's always busking.


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 30 Nov 11 - 10:37 AM

It's very hard to escape the american accent flavour of most pop culture, but it is worth doing. Americans, of course, should sing in American accents.


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: John P
Date: 30 Nov 11 - 10:30 AM

There are, of course, blinkered idiots in the folk scene, as in any other scene. Instead of trying to occupy folk music, why don't you all go occupy the blinkered idiots?

On another note, the only goal I can think of for the "Occupy Folk Music" folks, based on what they've said, is to create a situation where they can force venues to put on the music they feel isn't getting a shot. Hmm . . . dictating what a venue can and can't program. Do you really think that's a better situation than we have now? Who gets to be part of your cabal? Or is the idea to simply show up at vocal-only song circles with a guitar, show up at traditional clubs and play self-composed music, or enter a singer-songwriter showcase with an Irish tune?


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 29 Nov 11 - 07:25 PM

Right! I was very angry when I wrote that. Sanjay brayne had just read all that stuff Tunesmith had been writing about him - all about English folkmusic was really in trouble, cos if he was the future and he sang in an American accent - well the future was looking grim. And he was upset.

On that same Harding programme, there was John Tams singing in an American accent and everyone was dutifully creaming their jeans. Check it - see if I'm wrong.

Sanjay's just barely 18 - he shouldn't have to face this crap. On the other hand I should never have had to face this shit either, but faceit, I did my whole career.

American accent, playing blues guitar to tradtional song - I've had this bollocks for years. And no matter how high you jump - you can never win - because really its just about the keeping that echelon very exclusive, and people who want to toady to them. Its a very depressing aspect of the folkscene - no wonder Ian Campbell's kids took one look and decided to give it a wide berth.

And now Sanjay is facing this same bloody nonsense. He's one of my best friend's son, and I've given him more than a few guitar lessons. I take it personal.

Sorry if I passed on my upset to you. But I don't feel we should tolerate horseshit indefinitely.


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: John P
Date: 29 Nov 11 - 04:31 PM

I've been playing folk music in the US for 30 years. The only times I've been told I wasn't appropriate for a venue was one place that hated traditional music and only booked singer-songwriters and another that only allowed traditional music to be played by people actually from the country that the music was from. In both cases I was a bit peeved, but I also fully recognized that someone who bothers to book folk music gets to book what they want. I have found NO venues that put only completely traditional music.

We all have to realize that when we call a place for a gig, we are salespeople making cold calls. If they don't want you, tough shit. If you are going to occupy something, there needs to be a something to occupy. Can you tell where the folk music vetting board is? Who are the cabal that is controlling everything? Can I join it?? This discussion makes it sound like a conspiracy. Utter bullshit.

How can I say this in way that will be understood? It's been said several times already, but Steve and Al don't seem to get it:

If. You. Don't. Like. What's. Being. Booked. Start. Your. Own. Club.


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 29 Nov 11 - 03:29 PM

No problem Al - Whenever you are in the Manchester area get in touch and be sure of a welcome.

Now, so there is no chance of a misunderstanding when you get here, just run that comment about me being up someone's bum again? I would like to make sure I understand exactly what it is you are talking about so I can refute the correct allegation!

:D


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 29 Nov 11 - 03:23 PM

Thankyou for your generous offer Dave. As I've explained - you're about ten years too late> i am simply not well enough to live the life of a roving musician any more.

i was thinking of doing a few local gigs this Christmas, but in the event I had to drop the idea.

Thankyou once again for your kind offer.


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 29 Nov 11 - 02:56 PM

And, in case you missed it, on record and for everyone to see -

Pick ANY Friday night after around February next year. Let me know how much you want to charge on the door. Let me know how YOU want to run the night and the booking is yours. I can only promise to pay what we take on the door but, whetever happens, I am sure we will have a good night.

Cheers

Dave


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 29 Nov 11 - 02:51 PM

I'm glad you clarified it, Steve. Sounds absolutely dire and I just thank heavens I was born on this side of the pond :-)

Al, I'm not going to fall out with you (no matter how hard you try :-) ) But, for the benefit of others I will pull you up on a couple of things.

How dare they say I'm crap, when I can piss rings round them as a musician, as a singer and a song writer - none of thems ever written a hit record.

Who are 'they' that say that you are crap? I'm certainly not one and I have not heard anyone evem suggest it. But on the other hand, who are you to say you piss rings round the guests I have booked? Anthony John Clarke (Singer songwriter) Roger Davies (Singer songwriter) Jon Harveyson (Singer songwriter) and countless others. Why, I even offered a spot, on his own terms, to a certain Mr Whittle. Sadly he turned me down :-( And yes, twice I booked Martin Carthy. In nearly 30 years of running the club. Sorry about that:-)

Okay. I accept that's the situation and you are up their bum, dave.

I assume I am the Dave in question? Seeing as you seem to know me well already I guess that you also know that for years I have helped to run Swinton Folk Club. For a good while I did it on my own. Last 3 years I have helped but mainly taken a back seat. Primarily because of other commitments but at the back of my mind there has always been the feeling that whoever I book, someone gets annoyed. And I don't like to annoy people. When we book only 10 guests a year it is difficult to fit in everyone, as much as I would like to, so I gave up.

Now, can you tell me the who, why and wherefore of who's bum I am up, how far up it am I, with what and do we enjoy it?

Cheers

:D


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 29 Nov 11 - 10:25 AM

What you were doing of course is consonant with the '54 definition


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: YorkshireYankee
Date: 29 Nov 11 - 09:22 AM

About 15 or so years ago, I was the "officer" responsible for organising guests/workshops for the monthly meetings of my (midwestern US) "folklore society". I brought in "traditional" musicians and dancers from various cultures, including: an Eastern Indian dance troupe, a Flamenco dancer, some local Blues musicians, a Native American musician, a West African kora player, an African drummer (can't remember which country anymore) and more.

Apparently my (admittedly broad) take on what qualified as suitable for our meetings did not please everyone; I think some felt I was going a bit too far afield from the more usual guests of singers and fiddle, banjo, guitar, spoons & bones players, etc.

I still remember one comment I received about having "two in a row from Africa", and thinking that if I had organized, say, one on bagpipes and the next on the concertina, I doubt anyone would have commented on having "two in a row" from the UK...


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: Brian Peters
Date: 29 Nov 11 - 09:13 AM

Steve,
Whilst respecting your previous experience and active participation in folk music organizations over there, I'm still at a loss to see what you're trying to acheive. In your opening post you told us that "1% of the folkies control nearly all of what is heard in folk music clubs and societies. It is time to stand up to the dreaded Folk Police", then a little further down you're telling us that it's not actually all about promoters at all, but the "Big Boys and Big Girls of folk music", a point you illustrate by quoting a number of examples of what is essentially boorishness and poor session etiquette. Well yes, ill-mannered and arrogant idiots exist in all walks of life including folk music, but you can find that kind of behaviour from singers and musicians who gather in the pub to play, just as much as amongst any so-called 'Big Boys'.

On your Facebook page you explain that 'Folk Police' has a different meaning in the US from that which it carries in the UK, yet your use of the term in that opening post carries exactly the same kind of meaning that we've grown wearily accustomed to over here. I've been involved for thirty years and, belive me, there's no sinister organization, no conspiracy.

Look at it another way. I recently spent an evening talking with the director of an excellent US Folk Festival, that books a really interesting range of acts and encourages new ones. When this person had explained to me what they had to go through - in terms of bureaucratic and financial headaches, never mind keeping the actual programme interesting - I was amazed that someone would devote themselves to their own musical enthusiasm with such patience and dedication, and realised pretty quickly that if this person weren't doing it, the event simply wouldn't happen. That's my experience of a lot of venue organizers over there. Your first post seemed to suggest that such people are comparable in some way to the money-grabbing plutocrats that wrecked our economies and continue to take the piss out everybody else. I find that quite offensive.

And yet, as you point out, you have a flourishing house concert circuit in the USA, that has no musical boundaries other than the personal tastes of whoever decides to persuade a musician to play in their living room. If the established Folk Song Societies aren't giving you what you want, there are countless alternatives for music of all kinds. So what do you want to see happen? If you want people to stop behaving objectionably at folk events, that's fine (we've had discussions here on 'session etiquette' before), but please keep 'folk police' cliches, rhetorical percentages and insinuations about hard-working volunteers out of it.


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: Suffet
Date: 29 Nov 11 - 07:46 AM

Richard,

You wrote, "... you should be able to start a new thing instead of bewailing what there is." Please note I have been actively involved in the organizational end of folk music in the USA for many years. My activities have included serving on the board of directors and program committee of a large folk club, serving on the steering committee (board of directors) of a national organization, doing the booking and many other jobs for a coffee house style club that presents a weekly program, and producing an annual folk concert for a poetry club. I have also helped to produce several one-time events. All of this has been unpaid volunteer work.

Once again, the organization structure of our folk scene in the USA is very different than in the UK. I have been working through that structure for a long time, not casting darts from the outside. As one who has done a lot of the legwork (stuffing envelopes, pasting labels onto newsletters, designing and distributing flyers, answering mail, selling tickets, setting up sound equipment, counting the gate receipts, working the product sales tables, preparing food, fetching water, shuttling people to and from events, cleaning up after the audience has gone, etc.), I have seen first hand what goes on, for better or for worse.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: Suffet
Date: 29 Nov 11 - 06:38 AM

Ralphie,

You wrote, "And yes the clientel is aging rapidly, but unlike the US it seems, the interest taken by the kids is pretty healthy. They just do it their own way." The same actually is true in the USA. There are plenty of young people flocking to folk music of all sorts, both traditional and contemporary, but as you say, they just do it their own way.

Some of the older folk music clubs go out of their way to be welcoming, or at least to meet the younger generation halfway, and such clubs are holding their own. Others choose to remain stodgy and insular, and they are shrinking. Once again, it is not simply a question of whom they book, although that is an important factor. It is their overall demeanor. Behaving in a manner that turns people off may be unintentional, but it happens. There is no one simple remedy, but a good place to start is to recognize the problem and then take some conscious steps to overcome it.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 29 Nov 11 - 04:45 AM

We are however principally amateurs but do have to beware of things like one band member being in Cardiff or Qatar and another in Berlin or Vegas on business!


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 29 Nov 11 - 04:30 AM

Well done Richard. Sometimes you get lucky! where I live, There just isn't anywhere nearby to play....Can't afford the petrol on a speculation.
An example, when I was with Patterson Jordan Dipper, we were offered a gig in South Shields.
After working out the travel costs (about 1200 miles between us, and 3 days out of our lives!) two play for an hour and a half the fee of £150 and two nights on a floor didn't really seem worth it! Don't get me wrong, the organisers were lovely, but £1500 would have been nearer the mark!


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 29 Nov 11 - 04:03 AM

It does however sound Suffet as if (apart from the issues of travel distances in the USA outside towns) if what you say is so you should be able to start a new thing in stead of bewailing what there is.

And if the status quo is ageing so fast you surely have an inside track to change from the inside. Join something and pretty soon you'll be the only one left alive.

Incidentally Jon, the "schlep" thing still works. In the UK. I was asked to do a support slot at the pub venue I usually go to - and took my band which was really only just forming. We were asked to do two proper paid gigs, one there and one elsewhere. We went to a club in London to see some friends perform - did one song as a floor spot and were asked to do two gigs. We aren't Bellowhead, the Oysterband, Coope Boyes & Simpson, or Lynne Heraud and Pat Turner but a few people seem to like what we are doing and it's totally done on the odd floorspot and word of mouth.


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 29 Nov 11 - 01:44 AM

Thanks for that Suffet.
Here in the UK. We have very few (musical) house parties. Most people don't live anywhere big enough to hold one! I think I've been to 1 in 30 years. We also don't have a coffee bar culture as it was in the 50's. I think I'd get very odd looks if I got my concertina out in Starbucks!! Anyway they would need an entertainment license from the local authorities.
As for pubs as well as the expense of said licence, And the cost of hiring the room, a lot of landlords in this economic climate and converting them into quasi retaurants, Much higher return. Can't really blame them, they've got to make a profit somehow.
in the 70's you could go to a club every night of the week in London..Sometimes a choice of several. And yes the clientel is aging rapidly, but unlike the US it seems, the interest taken by the kids is pretty healthy. They just do it their own way..But just look at the booking lists at festivals over here. You can't move for youngsters. Organisations like Shooting Roots caters for all sorts of activities Singing/Playing/Morris etc. They even have their own ceilidhs etc. And if you went to a Bellowhead gig and were over 35, you'd feel distinctly old!
as for getting gigs. The traditional way was to sclep around clubs doing a floor spot, and hoping to get noticed. Pretty easy in London in the 70's for reasons stated above. Nowadays, It's not financially viable, petrol being the cost it is. Some of the more tech savvy peple put up you tube vids, but there is still a lot of word of mouth that goes on.
In spite of the difficulties, I have no fears that the UK scene will continue to grow, but just in a different way, but isn't that traditional anyway?
Sorry it seems different over in the US.
An example. My nearest "Folk" club ios nearly 40 miles away. Only accesible by car in reality. so that's an 80 mile round trip. add the expense of the admission charge for two, and a couple of drinks you' have little change out of £30 at a guess. You could probably get 3 of the artists CDs for that.
When I lived in Kent, a few years ago, we had (and it's still going) a cracking little club just a 5 minute walk away. A typical English club, you knew everyone, and they all knew you. But, It was a very tight knit community, with lots of other "Folkie" activities. The annual Hop festival celebrating the harvesting of the Kentish hops. A mediaeval fayre, Yearly weekend trips to Ypres to play music with our Belgium musician friends.
Living back in London, there isn't that sense of community. People are too busy just getting by. I blame the Government and reality TV!


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 28 Nov 11 - 10:59 PM

The hardest thing to find in the US, in my experience, is a venue that features trad music.


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: Jeri
Date: 28 Nov 11 - 10:38 PM

The US is pretty diverse. We don't have any "folk clubs" around where I live. There are a couple places that have house concerts. Alcohol is typically found at one and not the other. We have pubs, or bars or restaurants that feature folk music, and a couple that hold sessions. The ones that hire musicians don't pay shit, but they seem to get decent musicians. I don't know why, but they do.


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 28 Nov 11 - 09:14 PM

not a bit of it Steve, What America did yesterday. we do today.

personally speaking i am intending to invade Vietnam and learn the twist - and it goes like this!


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: Suffet
Date: 28 Nov 11 - 08:57 PM

Greetings again:

When I created this thread I called it Occupy Folk Music! (USA) for a reason, which is to say that it about the folk music culture United States of America. Having spent some time in the UK, although not very much, I was aware that differences exist between the folk music cultures in those two countries. However, until today I was not aware of the extent of those differences, which run much deeper than I had presumed. As a consequence of that new awareness -- thank you, Mudcatters, for educating me -- I clarified my statements on this thread and at the same time I made several changes to the Facebook community page I created.

But awareness should be a two-way street, so let me point out some differences between the USA and the UK that many Mudcatters in the UK might not understand.

• Folk clubs in the USA are not the same as in the UK. They are often organized as not-for-profit corporations with dues paying members who elect a board of directors and sometimes elect the other officers as well (e.g. president, vice president, treasurer, secretary). Those officers are the public face and the spokespeople for their club. More importantly, they bear overall responsibility for all aspects of the programs program, including the social and educational program.

• Folk clubs in the USA do more than put on concerts. They often hold dances, they sponsor weekend getaways, they produce festivals big and small, they offer classes and workshops, they host parties, they run community sing-arounds, they sponsor Gospel and Scared Harp sessions, they organize one-day special events, and more.

• Not just the titles, but the actual roles played by club activists in the USA are different than in the UK. Instead of a single organizer [Yank spelling], a folk club in the USA is likely to have a program committee which meets under the leadership of a program director, and which is in turn responsible to the board of directors. Frequently there are separate committees or directors for different events. For example, if he club sponsors a festival, the festival committee and festival director will likely be separate from the club's program committee and program director. In addition, the board of directors sometimes appoints an ad hoc committee to run a special event.

• Unlike in the UK where folk clubs meet in pubs or other venues where alcohol is served, folk clubs in the USA usually present their programs in churches, schools, or other places where alcohol is forbidden. The most common model for a folk club in the USA is the coffee house, not the public house.

• Many folk clubs in the USA are shrinking. Older members move away or die off, and younger people do not replace them. As a result, the median age keeps rising, and there are fewer and fewer people left willing and able to do the work. Nevertheless, not all folk clubs in he USA are facing such trouble. Why not? Because they have made the conscious effort to reach and and be welcoming while other clubs keep becoming more and more insular.

• While many folk clubs have been withering away, independent house concert series have been exploding throughout the USA, and throughout Canada as well. There are many reasons for this, cost of operations being one of the major factors. However, the house concert circuit provides many more opportunities for many more performers and many more styles of music than do the old fashioned coffee house style clubs.

Given these important differences, the issues raised on the Facebook community page (which is what this thread is about) are likely irrelevant to the UK. Nevertheless, in spite of some rhetorical flourishes, I stand by my basic argument that getting (inspiring, prodding, challenging, leading) the folk music community in the USA to become more open, diverse, vibrant, and welcoming is a real issue. And, as my examples illustrate, it is not simply a question of who gets booked where. It is a much larger issue of behaving in a way that people, especially younger people and people from different social backgrounds, will feel at home.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 28 Nov 11 - 08:57 PM

Okay let's try again.

How dare they say I'm crap, when I can piss rings round them as a musician, as a singer and a song writer - none of thems ever written a hit record.

And you have to sit there through their sodding awful songs, going Oh dahlink when we were at the san francisco folk Festival with martin and Norma and June. And then we went on to Honk Kong and Sydney...........

Okay. I accept that's the situation and you are up their bum, dave. But there really isn't a reason I am compelled to like the situation, and i don't. i have earned my living as a musician despite having more to say artistically, and being denied an arena to say it.

I hated the situation and I Think its a ghastly one to pass onto the next generation.

yeh you occupy the folk music scene if you can steve!


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 28 Nov 11 - 08:23 PM

Oh, go and occupy Blues or jazz or opera, for Chrissakes. Makes about as much sense.


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Subject: RE: Occupy Folk Music! (USA)
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 28 Nov 11 - 07:20 PM

I bet they played Soldiers Joy in the wrong key for it to be 'in the tradition'.

What are you going on about?


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